I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a while now and even though everyone I know has been an extra for a film or TV show at one time or another, I’ve never had the pleasure of doing extra work until I visited the set of Seth Rogen’s new movie Superbad, which was filmed in Northridge, California.
When Sony Pictures first asked me I thought it sounded like a fun idea so I said “sure. I’ll do it.” I was going to be in a party scene with Jonah Hill, who stars in the film with Michael Cera (“Arrested Development”). I naturally thought, “oh cool. I can wear something cute and funky and dress like I would if I was going out in L.A.” Wrong. I had to wear jeans and a “mundane” color thermal since the party was supposed to be in the mid west somewhere. I wasn’t excited about wearing a thermal in the valley and while I was a little disappointed I was still into it.
Then a couple of days later they told me my call time was 7:00 a.m., which I know to many of you is not too early, but the valley is about an hour away from me in traffic so that meant I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. Okay, that’s maybe still not early to some of you, but for me it was painful. And no, I’m not complaining, I love set visits and Superbad was especially cool because I got to dance next to Jonah Hill. Nice! Well, kind of. Keep reading.
I got to base camp, which was set up at a middle school down the street from the house we were shooting the party scene at. I was checked over for hair, makeup and wardrobe and then put on a shuttle that took me to the set.
I was eager to begin my extra duties as a hip hop dancer at a college party, but we were directed to craft services first for breakfast. No problem, I can always find something at craft services so we hung out there for a while. At around 8:15 a.m., we were taken to the house where a table of non-alcoholic beer and drinks were set up for us to take inside. With my fake beer in hand I was ready to go. We were assigned groups of people to dance with and were instructed to give high energy and look like we were having a good time.
There were about 25 other extras and the room we were in was incredibly small. The living room where we were dancing in was decorated in a tiger theme that included tiger oil paintings, pictures, and statues everywhere.
In the film, Hill and Cera are two high school friends who are trying to find someone to buy alcohol for them. They haven’t had the best luck with girls and before they graduate they are trying to live up their high school years. So when a random guy they meet on their quest to find beer invites them to a party, they go and are really uneasy about being there since they’ve never really partied before and everyone is older than they are.
The scene I was in features Hill first arriviving at the party. All the extras are already in the room dancing and he walks in dazed and looks nervous. A girl wearing a short denim mini skirt comes out of a group of the extras. She pretends to be wasted and when she sees Hill she stumbles over to where he is and dances with him. He’s stunned at first, but goes along with it.
It was really cool at first and I was having a great time. I happened to be right next to Hill and his drunken new friend, which means I was probably on camera with them. But, apparently another extra didn’t like the fact that I was in the shot and she wasn’t because she elbowed me out of the way. Like seriously pushed me out of the way. At first I thought it was because the room was so tiny and we were all so cramped, but she did this to me take after take.
At one point she even spilled some of my drink because she bumped into me so hard. As we kept shooting, I watched her and she did the same thing to other people as well. She was about 6 feet tall so she was originally put towards the back of the room, but as soon as the music started, she found her way to the front somehow every time by Hill.
I guess she thought maybe she was on the verge of being discovered so she thought she should be as close to the camera at all times even if it meant shoving smaller people out of her way to get there.
Since I wasn’t a real extra I just laughed because I couldn’t believe how someone would be so desperate for anyone to catch a glimpse of her in the shot, but then again it is LA so I shouldn’t be too surprised.
I never said anything to her because while I was having fun being an extra, I just didn’t care to be in the shot that bad. But, the guy who was dancing next to me did. During some of the takes, the girl would dance really close to him since he was standing near Hill as well. He finally told her, “I’m married and you can’t dance that close to me.”
After a couple of hours I’d had enough, but since I was in the shot I had to keep dancing until they were happy with a take. About three hours later I was finally done and got to go outside and wait to interview the talent.
The real extras had to stay for other scenes which most were happy about from what I could tell, and when I left at 5:00 p.m. they were all still there. From what I understand, that’s a typical day and so many are willing to work such long hours because the longer they work, the more of a chance they have of making it into a scene.
I never realized there was so much competition and drama between the extras. After my extra experience, I must say I have a newfound appreciation for the people who do it on a regular basis, and I also learned not to screw with the hard core extras.
Oh, and I made the final cut! Be sure to watch for me in the scene.
Superbad hits theaters on August 17.